Pope Francis welcomed Minister of Culture and Sports Lina Mendoni on March 27 in the morning at the Vatican. The meeting, which took place in a particularly warm climate and lasted forty-five minutes, was scheduled at the invitation of the pontiff, following the donation of the three Parthenon fragments from the Vatican Museums, which were reunited at the Acropolis Museum on Friday, March 24.

Lina Mendoni handed the Pope a letter from Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis thanking him for his important decision to donate the three fragments of the Parthenon to Archbishop Ieronymos. The Minister herself referred particularly to the special importance that the pope’s generous move has for all the Greek people, as well as to Greece’s constant demand for the final reunification of the Parthenon Sculptures in Greece and the Acropolis Museum.

The Pontiff stressed his special respect for Greece, as the cradle of Western civilization, while the meeting highlighted the excellent, Philadelphian and sincere relationship between Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

Pope Francis also made special reference to Ukraine’s war and the importance of ongoing efforts to restore peace.

Lina Mendoni donated to the Pope a copy of a 1st century BC marble statue., known as “the Whiting”, which was made by the Greek National Liberation Organization, especially for the Pope, knowing his special love for children and his sensitivity to the refugee issue. The original statue was unveiled in the Gerontiko of Nysa-near Smyrna-and was brought to Greece by the archaeologist Konstantinos Kourouniotis and by refugees from Asia Minor, who donated it to the National Archaeological Museum.

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